Monday, November 4, 2013


Reality is relative. Perceptions are absolute. Life is all about the little moments.
To put it all in perspective, the changes made in those moments based on the perceptions define an individual’s reality. We are the product /amalgamation of everything we have been through and anyone who has been a part of our lives. Be it your friendly neighborhood guy or a most wanted criminal, a saint or a sinner, each one of us was born innocent. If the daily reports are anything to go by, one could say that we definitely don’t do a very good job at staying that way. Some of us tend to let go of that inherent innocence much easily than the others; the dark side is embraced and evil is born. What drives this transformation then? How does one get initiated into the dark side? The first step to find the answers to these questions is to check on our notions of evil.  
The dictionary defines the word EVIL as something which is “profoundly immoral or wicked”. So it is anything which is immoral then. Well, it is not so simple. The thing is that immorality itself is defined by Merriam-Webster as “beliefs about what right behavior is and what is wrong “. The questions which arise in turn are: is the notion of right and wrong so absolute that it can be given clear-cut demarcations?  Can a rigid set of beliefs contain the ideas of what is right and what is not? Privileged people might be tempted to think of it that way and more often than not, they will. To think of you as being on the right side, as a virtuous being is a rather pleasing thought. But a little introspection is enough to suggest that it is not so. Such an abstract notion cannot be contained in boundaries. And only when you acknowledge the existence of this unclear demarcation, you begin to understand evil.

Let us go back to our question now. What causes the birth of evil? Briefly it can be answered in three words.
Choices. Situation. System.

No one is born evil. The choices made in a situation where the existing system puts the individual in question in a position of power and gives him/her the ability to choose defines his/her actions. And when the burden of responsibility for the choices and the directly resulting consequences is taken away, that is when evil is born. If the perpetrator develops a self-contrived sense of justice, it gets even dangerous.
There are numerous examples involving seemingly ordinary people which support the above. Be it the HOLOCAUST or the recent GUANTANOMO BAY and ABU GHARIB torture cases involving the American army personnel, those involved in them weren't exactly your typical stereotypes for evil. Your current view-point regarding those involved in the aforementioned events might make it a little hard for you to digest this but before being put in the respective positions they were ordinary citizens who had been brought up along the lines of the socially accepted moral norms. What changed then? In the controversial US prison cases they were left alone with the prisoners unsupervised (intentionally of course) and given a free-hand to break their spirit in order to make them confess their supposed crimes.

Holocaust was performed by men and women possessing a firm belief in their actions and its consequences, fueled by the leadership of one supreme leader. The results were there for everyone to see.

So what do these examples imply? Is it that the evil inside us is just waiting to be tapped, constrained only by the chains of social norms and supervision? No, not really. The situation isn't all that hopeless. You see, the very same situations that gave birth to those evil tendencies also gave way to heroism, in just as ordinary people.
When everyone else around him had seemingly given up on their conscience*, a low-ranking Abu Gharib private Joe Darby stood up to what he thought was pure cruelty and blew the whistle on his own comrades. He did what anyone else should have done but didn’t.
Joe Darby

Remember Schindler’s list? Oskar Schindler had a change of heart after seeing the Jews getting massacred by the SS soldiers and spent the last few months of the Second World War trying to save his workers and their families from an untimely end. An ex-spy turned corrupt pro-Nazi businessman, he didn’t exactly fit the profile of a savior. But he made a choice and the rest is history.

Good and bad. Evil and Heroism. They are just like the sides of a coin. But unlike what probability theory might have taught you, the results of the toss of this coin aren't random or independent. The results are decided by an individual’s choices and the events leading to it. So the next time around you find yourself in a tricky situation, make the right choice.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Stranger : Undefined Relationships- Prelude

You know there are those moments in your life you look back at and wonder at times how things would have turned out had you chosen the other path. It was one of those moments. I don’t remember sharing this with any one before in particular . I was in class 9th and it was at one of those boring marriage reception dinner parties where people try their level best to look busy and avoid being looked upon as an out of sync idiot. Well, I certainly have never been that good at doing that and it certainly showed. Then about an hour into the party I was introduced by my father to the kid (same age luckily) of one of his co-workers. He seemed to have been at some of these parties before and I, not sharing his experience in any way, happily let him lead the way.

It was just then that I met him, that guy who was a perfect stranger to me. I had never seen him before and I would never see him again. I don’t even remember his name or where he was from. I honestly didn't care enough to register him when we had started chatting. But I remember his face to an extent, not because he sparkled in the night sky (pun totally intended Edward-lovers) but because it had a certain gloom about him which struck me even as the naive kid which I was back then. Then why am I telling you all this? Well, I am because of his story which I didn't care about enough that day would come to haunt me after some very interesting teenage years.

Let me provide a background check on that guy first. He was probably 22 or 23 or something. He had one of those kinds of faces which looked like it had at one point of time been inscribed with pain. He was the son one high-ranked official and probably was well of for his life-time without him needing to work much if at all. But he was dressed as plainly as one could and sat in a relaxed manner at one of the corner table sipping away at his cola.

He seemed to be an acquaintance of the guy with me so when we went and sat over at his table he started chatting. It was just normal chit-chat in the beginning. Then he asked me if I had a girlfriend. It seemed odd at first that he asked me that but it was pretty normal back then, at least when asked by people my age. So shaking off the initial hesitation I answered,” Yeah, kind of… maybe.” He surely was more confident of what he wanted to say and he continued,” Do you love her?” I somehow was innocent enough (in plain words stupid) or maybe unsuspecting and I continued to answer. “Yes, I love her”
He then looked at my face as if he was studying it or maybe wanted to remember something. The guy who had introduced me to him just sat there and listened as if he knew what was to follow. And then he smiled and closed his eyes. He seemed to give a strange feeling, as if he knew something which I didn't  And then he started telling me something which I remember even today.

“I was like you kid. I had just passed my 10th board examination. I was my school topper, one of the district toppers, high merit in the state list even. 70+% in UP board, big deal then. People expected something good from me. My parents, they expected something great from me. I expected it too. I had it planned out, had a great future in front of me.  And then I met her.”

The other guy with me interrupted and told me that he had heard about this “bhaiya” from his father and was told that he was “real good at studies”

The stranger smiled and continued, “I had been a studious one, not much of contact with the ladies. She was like a breath of fresh air. I became friends with her. We started hanging out during the lunch time, then after school hours. It grew and slowly the focus of my life shifted. I didn’t want the glory or anything. I believed that love would take me through. I stopped studying, mingling with friends. I thought we were meant to be. One year passed. And then…”
He broke off. He didn't tell me anymore. It all seemed a little too dramatic at that time. Interesting but dramatic nevertheless. I gathered my courage and went on to ask him, “What do you do now?” He told me he had spent his years after his school doing a meaningless polytechnic degree and was now preparing for MBA. I asked him, “Where is she now?” He told me,” That is the point kid. I don’t know

After that we didn't talk about it. Some useless chit-chat and then I was called on by my parents to leave. He just told me one thing before leaving, “Sambhalke rehna ye pyaar se. Abhi chote ho, nahi samjhoge.”

I shrugged the guy off and continued to live with my notion of love and relationships, trying to find the perfect companion. My priority list was extremely different you see from most of those at my age. Luckily for me, I still had time to tinker before it was too late.

I don’t know if this story means anything to you. It didn't to me too until recently. In fact I had all but forgotten about the incident but looks like it was stored in some tiny fragment of my frail, little brain.
This story is one the reasons for the upcoming article of mine. How you will understand soon enough. We need to understand the difference between love and madness in these times of

Live young, wild and free but be careful when need to be. Life is all about prioritizing. Prioritize soon and prioritize well.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Changing with the times

"Change is the only constant."

A smart guy had said once, “In today’s world, what are national boundaries but mere lines on maps.” And I couldn't have agreed any more with him. We are living in, as it has been said, a global village after all. No offence to Jackie Chan but now we don’t really need 80 days to travel around the world, and it is but inevitable that with the advent of globalization  there has been an ever increasing exchange of ideologies, both cultural and technological. It is an obvious fact but I would still venture to say that all this has drastically changed the way we, the people, live their lives. It is mostly for the good I think but as we all know, every coin has two sides to it. More often than not, it goes down to an individual level that how this phenomenon affects us.

Now that the stage is set, let me bring to fore the real topic at hand. India, the birthplace of the oldest and greatest of civilizations, has been seeing a big cultural shift as of late. We as a nation are at a crucial juncture at the moment. India has one of the largest, if not the largest, youth population in the world and that can be said to be the biggest reason for the change we are going through. This large chunk of the population grew in the age of web, lightning fast media, cross-cultural references and exquisite gadgets. Sounds good, doesn't it? But these are the same people who before even getting their driving licenses end up getting depression (or worst case, pregnant) at times! We are being influenced by the west they say, but is that the real reason? As I had already mentioned it is but inevitable that societies will adopt changes using the influx of new ideas from far and beyond. But beating the shit out of some girls in a bar and harassing them in broad daylight is not the best way to go about dealing with this change surely enough! 

We, as the present generation have a lot on our plate. Identity crises were never this prominent ever before and peer pressure weighs down heavy on even your average school kid. The fact that most of the parents won’t listen to anything but their deep-rooted age old beliefs doesn't help at all. Trying to find a way out many of us want to act differently, make others take notice. In this process many of the teens end up being enamored by the ways of the west. They listen to rock music just because the cool people do, they try to “get into a relationship” because they don’t want to end up like the forever alone guy on their FB timeline and in the process they lose the grip on what they really are. Now, I am not saying anything mentioned above is bad per SE but the reasons most of the people tend to do them are!

You don't need to smoke just because the you saw some apparent "hot-shot" do it. You don't have to dress up like everyone else expects you to do. You don't need to act as a rebel just because you think it would make you stand out. The only things you need to do is to ask yourself, "What do I really want to do?" and then you need to follow your heart. Trust me, in the long run it will give you a satisfaction that nothing else will do.

My final piece of advice : 
Simply follow the mantra, " Do what you love, Love what you do..."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The 'Untouchable' topic : Reservation

How India as a nation would have fared without the reservation system?

This question, in spite of its controversial nature needs to be asked. Some might argue that now that it is already prevalent why not simply go about things the way they are and see towards the future rather than pondering over the past but I tend to disagree. This logic might work in topics with a more modern origin so as to say. But when it comes to this Indian system its history needs to be looked into along with the current impact. The reason why it has withstood the test of time is a big question mark on the human mind-set. The reason being that to decide where we go from here with this system would require taking into account not just the present situation, but rather also the history behind it!

Let us get talking a little about human psyche, shall we? It’s a normal human trait to accept things the way they come towards you than trying to do things the hard way (which is more often than not the right way). Some people manage to get out of this mind-set and those select are the few who end up leaving an impact. We, as a society need to acknowledge this fact and accept that had anyone been in the place of a reserved category person, he/she might have accepted this system as a freebie and continue going about things as they are! If we are able to do so we might be able to slowly do away with the system.
But the problem arises when rather than delving deep into our souls we shamelessly start questioning a certain class of people. This debate and this system won’t be corrected by mere abashing of the reserved classes, rather we need to find the root cause of where the problem actually lies
and once we do, we might be able to correct a lot of things. Some of them being:

*** Indian education system (or rather the selection process) needs to be sorted out, and SOON!***


For many students it must be heart-breaking to see lesser individuals (and I am not talking only about IQ, rather passion too) get into elite institutions ahead of them.

Not only does it create a feeling of contempt rather also acts as big deterrent for the atmosphere of the institution. And trust me; the increasing competition isn’t helping the cause!

*** The already deteriorating political system isn’t helping the Dalit cause anymore in any case.***

When the great B.R. Ambedkar had agreed to create reservations for the oppressed classes, he had given it a ten-year life span; i.e. the system was supposed to be abolished in 1957. Now, many political analysts say that had it happened so it would have meant the near-extinction of the Dalit classes from the political map so it was good in a way that Dr.Ambedkar’s wish didn’t get fulfilled but it ended up getting stretched much longer than it should have had. The cause for the greater good got lost in the muddy ponds of Indian politics of vote-banks. The Dalit movement would have had continued in any case for the political advantage being offered to the ‘oppressed classes’ was misused by puppets in the hands of big parties like the BJP and Congress who were far from the Dalit movement. So even if the reservation were to end today it would not affect the larger picture of the Dalit cause.

Right now, straightaway removal of reservation might sound tempting and just to a large number of people. After all to an extent this system in legal terms is the equivalent of “punishing the children for the sins of their fathers.” But one needs to think of the overall stability of the system too. You can’t make such drastic changes overnight.

That being said, I think there needs to be a proper committee or think tank being set up for this very cause, for the cause of removal of reservation, partial or whole, and to correct the wrongs. The oppressed can’t stay the oppressed their entire life! We need to ensure than that we, as a nation see this through because no one can be sure about how the society would have been without it but I would love to see, personally, how it would be without it in the future.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chetan Bhagat : Phenomenon or Farce ?

Chetan Bhagat, the very name evokes a range of complex reactions ranging from hero worship to admiration to apathy to outright disgust! No matter which side of the fence you stand in this case, but you can’t deny that Mr Bhagat has carved out a niche for himself in the world of writing, and more so in the Indian society at large.

From a neutral point of view, one does need to give him the credit where it is due. He has to a large extent transformed the English Writing landscape in India. He was the first to capture the essence of the modern Indian Youth, and more importantly present it before them (in a written form!). And it did work splendidly after all, opening the gates for the fresh wave of Desi English writers that has since followed. Most of you must have seen “Kai Po Che”, a beautiful movie, wasn’t it? What made it such an instant hit? The answer is pretty simple, the story. It captured so much of what surrounds us in such a simple manner. Be it the essence of friendship or the semi-taboo romance or the portrayal of religious fanaticism. That is exactly what makes the stories of this guy click. They are easy for the masses to relate with.

But there is the other side to all this too. During his journey from an investment banker to a celebrity writer, he has had his share of negative publicity and criticism. He crossed swords with the makers of “3 Idiots” resulting in a much publicised media battle. His books have been labelled as those with unimaginative stories written in bad grammar, an accusation which can’t exactly been denied completely! He has been accused of dumbing down the level of literature in the country. Honestly speaking, he branding himself as the “voice of youth” in various articles hasn’t helped his cause either! Well, let’s be honest. His stories are to an extent like run-of-the-mill bolly cinema and they aren’t exactly literary marvels either. But one big problem is that it has become almost a past-time for some to criticise him just because they heard some wise guy do it on TV. It is good to have an opinion but to brand someone’s work as dumb just because you heard so somewhere is indeed stupid.

It goes down to a personal level too you see and it has to do with the Indian mentality to an extent. I mean, here you have an IIT and IIM alumnus who has gone on to become a literary superstar! For some, isn’t that just mean and unfair in the big bad world? Well, his credentials have unfortunately been one of the reasons for him getting bombarded by some.

At the end of the day, he might well be an over-rated and over-hyped writer. But the fact is he is probably the most well-known writer in the country. And for most of the people who don’t have the patience or the skill needed to sit through a LOTR, he is someone who has transformed them from a non-reader to a reader. You can love him, or hate him but he is one damn hard guy to ignore! But my advice, in case you don’t like him much (like I used to myself till sometime back)  try to ignore him for good or find something positive about it because he is here to stay.
I finish with what a strictly non-reader type friend of mine had once said about Chetan Bhagat’s writing once, “I don’t like it much but they are light and easy going.. Ek do din mein khatam ho jaati hai kam se kam..”.

 That sums it up I guess!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Darkest Hour

"I have worshiped woman as the living embodiment of the spirit of service and sacrifice."

-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Quite ironical it is to think that the above words were said by the “father of the nation” of a country which is being condemned worldwide right now for the way it treats its women, even more that this very country, since ancient times, has worshiped women as a divine being. But nothing is more ironical than the fact that it is this very 'Vedic' nation whose 'sons' rape their women and throw them in the middle of nowhere to die!

The recent incidents in our nation's capital involving the rape of a 23 year old, her subsequent traumatizing death and everything in between brought to popular attention the rather disturbing mindset prevalent in our society. The horrific details brought out an out pour of varying sentiments seen rarely before in contemporary Indian history. To top that, just when we thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, we saw some of the most irresponsible behavior by our political and intellectual class. Ranging from mind numbing silences by the top brass to outrageously idiotic statements, we had it all. This brought to fore once again that it’s not necessarily a lower strata problem; rather it is a much deeper crisis.

The problem lies with the very core patriarchal mindset of our society. Rape is not only a perverted and inhumane act of sexual gratification; rather for many it symbolizes an act of masochistic dominance. After all, the idea of male superiority is what most of the population grew up with. Why not then, just justify it!?

And that night there were not just 6 culprits. The passive stand-byers who wouldn’t dare to help the two ‘strangers’ were also a part. It was not just a 23 year old girl who was violated! We were all victims.

The world may not have ended but humanity will if we don’t do something. This may sound cliché but it’s time to correct the wrongs, time we became proud again. Time we not only change things, but became the change itself.


Hey there folks, welcome to my blog! I know, I know it does sound a little cliche but the best I was able to manage for now. :P

Never the less, a short introduction first.

Akash Tandon
First Year student from NIT, Surat
Writer by passion

More than enough for now, I think. You will get to know more with time my dear friends! I write out of sheer interest and nothing else. More than anything else, its the passion which drives me. Sharing my emotions and what I observe everyday gives me a kick which no bottle of liquor can!
And I have a lot to share, trust me! I am just a teen afterall and make no mistake, the ordinary teen of today has a lot to say, a hell lot ! I will atleast do my share here and hope for the best after that.

P.S. Thanks for your time!